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Man travels 3000km to fight traffic ticket only to have trial cancelled due to “scheduling error” at Lindsay Court House

KAWARTHA LAKES-John McFadden travelled from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (NWT) to Lindsay Ontario to fight a charge of Driving while under Suspension but was denied his day in court.

Mcfadden arrived at the Lindsay Courthouse on July 11th a few minutes before his scheduled trial time and was told there would be no trial. “I showed up at quarter after 1 for a 1:30 court appearance, I forgot something in the vehicle and I came back and my sister goes, Johnny relax there’s no Justice of the Peace.” Mcfadden says. “The Crown Attorney said he was just notified at 11:30 am.”

Crown Attorney Leonard Smart explained it was a “scheduling error” McFadden says. A number of other people were also sent home at the last minute due to the error according to McFadden.

In September 2018 McFadden, who has a valid NWT drivers licence, was driving on the road from Little Britain and was pulled over for speeding. He was charged with speeding but was shocked to be charged with Driving while under Suspension. “It took the police officer 20 minutes-half an hour back at his vehicle and he said he found me to be a suspended driver in Ontario.’ McFadden explained “He couldn’t tell me why I was suspended, he didn’t care why, he didnt care that I had a NWT licence.”

McFadden later found out his licence was suspended due to three bicycling tickets that somehow went unpaid. McFadden says he doesn’t understand how that could happen because he was able to obtain a NWT drivers licence since 2014 and renewed it every year. “In 2014 in NWT I paid all of my tickets and fines owing and got my licence. There are jurisdictional agreements with Ontario that means if you owe money for tickets in Ontario they won’t give you a NWT drivers licence. I don’t understand how this happened”

He will be in Ontario until next Wednesday and tried to reschedule the trial for next week. “This traffic court only sits one day a week. I’m available next week, I’m here until Wednesday, the court sits on Tuesday, so I asked if I could come back on Tuesday but the next available date was in September.”

In 2017 the Central East Region was facing a 30 per cent shortage of Justices of the Peace.  That led the ministry’s regional senior Justice of the Peace, Brian Norton, to relocate the Provincial Offences Court to Lindsay for a year. At the time there should have been 48 JP’s but there are 12 vacancies and three were on long-term disability. In one month alone 80 court sittings were cancelled.

We reached out to the Lindsay Court House but were told to contact the Ministry of the Attorney General. We contacted the Ministry of the Attorney General and were told to contact the Ontario Court of Justice.

“Due to unforeseen illness, no justice of the peace was available to preside in the Lindsay POA court on July 11, 2019 and all matters had to be adjourned.” Jill Arthur  for Ontario Court of Justice Communications Officer told Kawartha 411. “The Ontario Government appoints justices of the peace and  judges to fill vacancies  in the Ontario Court of Justice. There is a current justice of the peace  appointment process underway that will seek to fill vacancies in the Central East Region.

McFadden will be back for his next court date in December but feels the courts should be the ones paying for this trip. “I came home to fight this on principle If it comes to it, I will be back in September. Hopefully there won’t be any more errors.”

He faces a $1000 fine and 6 month suspension of his drivers licence.

 

 

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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